Jessica Kim introduces speakers Ken Saito, Jim Merryman and  Jenny Billips of Oregon Freeze Dry
Jessica Kim introduces speakers Ken Saito, Jim Merryman and Jenny Billips of Oregon Freeze Dry

Entering the International Affairs Club’s event Wednesday night, featuring Oregon Freeze Dry President Jim Merryman, organizer Jessica Kim was keeping her expectations grounded.

“I said if we got 50 it’ll be a success,” Kim said of Merryman’s talk at the LaSells Stewart Center’s C & E hall. “It’s a cozy room.

“We ended up not having enough seats for everyone,” Kim said.

The event attracted more than 200 attendees in the first major event the club has held and first big talk Kim and fellow club member Riley Kinser have organized.

Kim said the idea came from a desire to do something different than the traditional student club guest speaker, but something smaller than the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series put on by the College of Business the pair had volunteered with earlier in the year.

“We decided [DDLs are] great, but we wanted something more intimate, less like a lecture, and more geared to stories and not just what their business is about,” she said. “Riley and I are finance majors so we hear that all the time.”

College of Business Dean Ilene Kleinsorge introduced Merryman to Kim and Kinser last year, and the executive agreed to take part in an event. Kim said the group started preparing last spring, touring Oregon Freeze Dry in Albany, and kicked into high gear during fall term.

Kim said Merryman and Oregon Freeze Dry made a compelling invite because the company has needed to navigate the Great Recession while maintaining a global business, keeping their business moving in uncertain times both nationally and internationally.

“They’re a private company, so not a lot of the things they are in the media, and a lot has happened over the past 10 years, so we wanted to hear how they went through all the volatility in the market,” she said.

In the past few months Kim said the amount of work started to overwhelm her and Kinser, but a callout to club members over winter break and assistance from the Dean’s Student Leadership Council helped keep everything under control.

“It was fortunate for us that they stepped up,” Kim said.

Crowd at Oregon Freeze Dry talk

The night of the event went smoothly, Kim said, the only issue a few spectators sitting in the aisle after all available seats filled up.

“Jim was a lot more relaxed, and very witty,” Kim said. “Lots and lots of stories. Because he got the audience so engaged, lots of people raised their hands.”

After her first major event Kim, said her advice for other student groups would be to just put as much work in as possible before the event but let go as the day came.

“Just put in all the effort you can until the day before, then forget about it,” Kim said. “If you’re stressed out, nothing gets done. Most of the time, if you put in a lot of work, things come through.”

-Photos courtesy Jessica Kim

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